Many Teens Ready to "Unfriend" Parents on Facebook: Reason for Worry?

teen shocked by what she sees on the computer screen iStockphoto

(iStockphoto)

(CBS) It's official, Facebook is becoming uncool.

Blame well-meaning parents who leave innocent but humiliating messages on their teen's walls and over-share about family life.

Some therapists think parents who "befriend" their kids on the popular social networking site may be overstepping their boundaries.

Angela Wilder, an L.A.-based clinical psychologist, says she joined Facebook for networking purposes, yet she is not "friends" with either of her two daughters, ages 20 and 18.

"I feel it would be an invasion of their privacy, even though it's a public forum," she says.

But for those teens who may be less fortunate, there's an online support group called Oh Crap My Parents Joined Facebook.  According to the LA Times, the site gets at least 20 embarrassing submissions a day from teens.

Here's an example from the site:

Mike's mom: Mike finally passed his dorm room inspection and is on his way home for the summer from college. We are so proud of him . . .

Mike: dislikedislikedislike

Mike's mom: Why dislike, Mike?

Mike: It is a joke, mom.

Mike's Mom: Ok, just didn't want to be one of those parents who embarrass their kids on Facebook. Because we love you so much sweetie pie!

The LAT posits that wall posts like this maybe one reason why some young people may be losing interest in Facebook. That, and because it's become so popular with older people in general.

It's not just loving, innocent parents like Mike's that are making teens wary. According to Wilder, some parents use Facebook as a "back door way" to snoop. Yet the therapist says that if you do suspect there is something shady going on with your teen, there  other barometers which may be better indicators of your teen's state of mind.

"People aggrandize themselves online," she says. "They post that they're headed to a wild party when, in fact, they're at home watching TV." In addition, depending on how adroit with the settings on Facebook your kids are, there's a good chance many parents are only getting limited access to their offspring's posts.

More reliable methods of checking in on your teen may be honest conversation. Other possible indicators are sudden changes in physical appearance, changes in friends, attitude and grades, she says.

Just as important, Wilder says, is to know that even in the best relationships between parents and teens, there are certain things kids don't share with parents. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"Kids do have to individuate, and it's healthy for there to be some boundaries," she says.

  • Aina Hunter

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